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Development of Automobile Advertising
By C. G. Huntington
HERE is absolutely no doubt that the manufacture of automobiles has a lasting place
among the principal industries of the United States. Its rise and progress during the last few years has been wonderfully rapid, but there has been nothing ephemeral in its character. The story to date since 1895 has been one of constant advancement. The manner of this progress has been reflected in the advertising published by the different makers. This advertising has not developed in a straight line, but in what might be termed a zigzag forward motion.
Since the early days there has been a good deal of "follow the leader” tactics observable in the announcements which have appeared in the magazines and newspapers, but the whole mass of advertising, if one could get it in convenient form for inspection, would faithfully portray the rapid change of the automobile from the experimental half toy to one of those indispensables which are inseparably welded to the necessities of the times and have become prominent factors in the advancement of civilization.
Previous to 1895 occasional machines were manufactured and advertised and these first announcements impress one
having been tentative and half apologetic, in keeping with public opinion of those days which argued that "horseless carriages" had no business on the public roads and streets, and that any attempt to manufacture them in a large way would be met by restrictive legislation which would render such enterprise extremely hazardous. As the industry advanced it was argued that the American people were prone to adopt fads and new pleasures with great enthusiasm and then throw them down hard to be repudiated forever after.
It was said that automobiling for pleasure would cease all of a sudde:1 when perhaps least expected. And all this is suggested by the arguments used in advertisements of the manufacturers in 1900, 1901, and 1902.
We note that of the automobiles now in existence, the first ones to be regularly manufactured, advertised, sold and delivered included the Columbia electric, Duryea, Haynes-Apperson, Winton and Pittsburg (the last the forerunner of the present Autocar).
The makers of all these vehicles advertised in early issues of the Horseless Age (first published in 1895), the earliest paper to be established in the automobile class field in this country.
From its inception the industry has grown more rapidly than any other in the history of American enterprise and the amount of advertising has gathered volume accordingly.
Eight years ago there was practically no newspaper advertising of automobiles and comparatively little in the literary magazines and weeklies. In December, 1906, seven of the leading magazines alone contained 86 pages of automobile advertising and the New York daily newspapers during the months of September, October and November printed 375,839 lines of automobile advertising.
At present the outlook appears to be more favorable than ever before for those who are striving to make the most effective application of invention and business ability to the construction and distribution of automobiles and this, so far as we can see, applies equally to the future of automobile advertising.
There is especially a brilliant future in sight for utility vehicles, such as runabouts, city carriages of coach types, delivery wagons and trucks. It may be asked what the prospect is for the use of automobiles by farmers and the an
swer is obvious. Already some of the ground exists to-day for the criticism leading manufacturers are making in this advertising man offered; for it is quiry into the practicability of special quite true that a great many automoforms of self-propelled vehicles for use bile advertisements bear close rein agricultural districts, and particularly semblance to one another, precisely as on large farms of the West where long the automobiles themselves do; but we distances have to be covered by the also note that the most successful auowners, managers, and foremen on their tomobile manufacturers to-day are aniong tours of inspection.
those who have done the best adverSome modification of present designs tising. for this special use is strongly indi Take up any leading magazine and cated, and we confidently expect in the look through the automobile advertisenear future a part of the advertising
You will usually find a tradeof the more prominent makers will be mark and a cut of the car followed by designed to engage the attention of ag more or less talk about reliability, proriculturists. We do not here of course, gressive methods, perfection of construcrefer to traction machines for the more tion, strength, durability, luxury, simrapid performance of actual farm work, plicity of operation, etc. Then somewhich are already well established, but thing follows about catalogues, the manto cars intended for the conveyance of ufacturer's name, branch houses and so passengers.
Almost any one of the advertiseNow a word as to the character of
to be thus classed would be contemporary automobile advertising: strong if read alone by itself, but in
A year or two ago an enterprising the company of others closely resemadvertising man sent out a circular let bling it, force and impressiveness are ter to automobile manufacturers in lost. Perhaps three or four of the leadwhich he claimed that no one car oc ing makers are really original and concupied a leading place in the automobile vincing in their announcements, but field for the reason that none was prop at least a few of them could almost erly advertised. The current advertise swap advertisements with each other and ments of the day, he said, all looked hardly lose thereby. alike, said about the same thing, and A notable exception to the general were so similar generally that one would sameness of automobile advertising is suppose them to be made up by the same found in the announcements of some of person. None of them, he thought, was the electric carriage manufacturers an eye catcher and none possessed any whose respective lines differ from those magnetic power of attraction; in fact, of any other make and afford excellent he thought automobile advertising in opportunity for strong and convincing general was not the least convincing. In talk. This opportunity in one or two contradistinction he cited the leadership instances and especially by the Electric of certain cereals, soaps, washing pow Vehicle Company, makers of Columbia ders, lamp chimneys, collars, whiskies, electric and gasoline cars has been made etc., as being due entirely to the origi much of. Credit must also be given nality and force of the advertising put certain manufacturers of gasoline cars, out by their respective manufacturers. notably the makers of the Columbia,
It would be rather hard on any au Franklin, Olds and one or two others tomobile to assume that its possible who have taken advantage of special leadership would have to depend wholly performances in the way of record runs, on advertising, leaving the actual merit endurance contests, hill climbing feats, of the car entirely out of the question, and so on, to set forth strong and tellbut we must admit that a good deal of ing arguments. Actual performances